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Chuck Edwards, once considered a longshot to defeat U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, ousted the Trump-aligned conservative icon from Congress after one term with a victory on Tuesday night that drew national attention and positioned the three-term state senator for a strong run at the seat in November.

For all his fundraising ability and national profile, Cawthorn appeared to be left behind by Edwards, Matthew Burril and Bruce O'Connnell, who poured their own money and campaign cash into a withering barrage of 30-second spots that focused on the 26-yer-old's many missteps in recent months. Cawthorn seemed to have no answer, and hardly seemed to make much of an effort to answer. Candidates with more cash on hand overhelmed his output in direct mail, radio and TV, mocking his celebrity profile withoutnmentioning the figure it seemed to be modeled on, Donald Trump.

Multiple media outlets reported before 11 p.m. that Cawthorn had called Edwards and conceded. The Lightning's requests for interviews with Edwards and Cawthorn late Tuesday night were not immediately answered. Edwards told supporters that in his call conceding the election Cawthorn had "offered his support to our campaign" in any way he can.

Early on, Edwards surged to a lead over Cawthorn in one of the most closely watched congressional primaries across the nation.

In heavy turnout for an off-year election, 10,932 Henderson County voters cast a ballot before Election Day, a 12.6 percent turnout before Election Day dawned.

Edwards had 3,897 votes, or 47 percent, while Cawthorn was second with 1,776 votes (21.4 percent). That was not unexpected; even though Henderson is the home county for both candidates, voters here had elected Edwards to the state Senate three times by wide margins while Cawthorn has been battling a string of gaffes, traffic tickets, airport security busts for weapons and other unforced errors that his primary opponents have exploited.

Edwards sustained his lead throughout the night, even as the margin between the Hendersonville McDonald's franchise owner and the conservative firebrand narrowed.